Thursday, 13 September 2012

Doggies

Doggies are only taken for walkies because their owners don't want them to shit on their carpets. They want them to shit on the pavement or in the park. Here in Brighton, they want them to shit on the promenade, the lawns and the beach.

In most contexts, if a few people behave anti-socially it doesn't much matter. If a few people don't pay their train fares, the train company doesn't go bust. If most people don't, then it will. We can cope with small numbers of delinquents but not very large numbers.

When only a few people keep dogs - shepherds, blind people, security guards - dogs don't create a problem. When everyone feels they must own a doggy, then they do, if only because the absolute number of clueless or anti-social owners increases.

Nowadays, under social pressure, many owners walk behind their doggy with a shit bag, ready to pick up excrement and put it in a council bin (from which it will be removed and recycled at public expense). But not every owner is a willing shit picker. You see dogs being directed to places - like the stony beach rather than the tarmac promenade - which allow owners to convince themselves that it's not "realistic" to pick up the shit from that spot. They can persuade themselves that they are willing but not able. Even more so when their dog has diahorrea.

If you want to put things into perspective, next time you watch a dog shitting on the pavement, imagine that you are watching its owner squatting down - with another human standing ready with a plastic bag.

Of course, dogs create other problems. They can be noise polluters and even well-intentioned owners may be able to do little to control barking . And they bite children and postpersons, often for the first time so that even the best of owners could not have foreseen it. Some dogs are deliberately kept for attack and this is a different situation: it is clearly the owner who is acting anti-socially and wilfully so.

But the shit problem is the real dog problem. Every sunny weekend, here in Brighton, unwary human visitors will go to the beach or the promenade lawns and find themselves lounging in shit. They'll have it on their feet, their elbows, their hands. Some will be children. Our Council prides itself on being Dog Friendly.

Do I exaggerate? I had a look at information on the www.keepbritaintidy.org website.

There are between 6 500 000 and 7 400 000 dogs in the UK - since they don't have to be registered, these are best estimates. Each day, these dogs produce about 1 000 metric tonnes of shit.

Over half of all dog owners do not worm their dogs. That is why the majority of parks and open spaces in the UK are contaminated with eggs of the worm Toxocara Canis . These eggs are very robust and can survive for long periods before hatching.

About 100 cases of Toxocariasis in humans are diagnosed each year with around 50 of them causing serious eye damage. Nearly all those affected are children. There is no treatment or cure.

Aah,doggy woggies.




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